This page is intended to be a research resource for anyone interested in tracking the publicly reported discussion of the issues raised by Canada’s social experiment in medically facilitated death. Because this work was started in May, 2022, there are huge gaps before that, going back to the 1990’s and earlier. Most recent material will be at the top of the page. Older material will be incorporated in article date order. For current clippings, visit Current News 2023.
December 21, 2022 (The TORONTO STAR) Give mentally ill patients a chance at healing before offering MAID
There’s no voice like the voice of experience. This is not an anti-MAID voice, but one that speaks from a place of having recovered after a turbulent and difficult involvement with the involuntary mental health system. The author points to an old adage, that “suicide is a long-term solution to a short-term problem.” There is hope for recovery — a hope that can be as simple as finding a friend, a compassionate professional who listens, or even a quiet park bench. Once the long-term solution has been pursued, recovery is no longer possible. “If we do take that responsibility [of offering the long-term solution], we have to guarantee that we will first give them every opportunity in the world to get better, before they rid themselves of their short-term problem forever.”
December is wake-up month!! Alexander Raikin’s (December 16th) article (see below) has busted down the doors of secrecy and it’s all over the news: The Star, The National Post, Twitter and who else? is all over this! Some really thoughtful meditations on the big questions that folks have been ignoring up to now. Rick Salutin points out the error of replacing a medical category with an existential category, for example. Please read all of the articles you can find and share them with LWD and your friends so we can keep up the momentum over the holiday season and make sure the New Year starts with truth instead of obfuscation!
December 20, 2022 (Global News, Saskatchewan) An intellectually disabled woman needed help. She went to jail instead
The pandemic really interfered with Jessica’s life, removing the supports that she counted on to cope on her own. When a worker suggested that they couldn’t help her unless she was going to hurt someone or herself, she threatened to hurt someone. That’s just logical! Consequently, she was arrested for uttering threats, and remanded in custody — that’s not logical. That’s a system failing to cope with reality then blaming the victim for its failures. Thankfully, nobody suggested MAID to this young woman!
December 19, 2022 (Psychiatric Times) The Harms of Assisted Death Are Not Just a “Disabled Thing”
Gordon Friesen writes: “… decriminalization [of assisted suicide] requires the selective removal of otherwise universal criminal code protections.1 The mere legalization of MAID, therefore, creates a serious and discriminatory danger. That the danger is serious, we must certainly agree. Because, otherwise, we would have no prohibition, and no need for an exception. That the danger is discriminatory, appears in the fact that its burden falls upon one group alone.
In addition, … this discriminatory, lethal danger, has been imposed upon the members of that group, against their will. It is instructive, in this light, to review the recently successful passage, in Canada, of Bill C-7 (2021),2 enacted to extend euthanasia to individuals not at the end of life. Every single one of the testimonies and briefs introduced before Parliamentary Committee,3 by disabled individuals and their organizations, was opposed to the expansion. Moreover, in a theatrically orchestrated Open Letter,4 the Vulnerable Persons Standard5 presented the signatures of no less than 147 nationally representative disabled organizations (and their allies) in opposition to the Bill. If informed and engaged opinion is to be our guide, it can be confidently stated that the “disabled community” is unconditionally opposed to euthanasia eligibility for its [non-dying] members. And yet this legislation was carried, 213 votes to 106.6
December 16, 2022 (The New Atlantis) NO OTHER OPTIONS – Newly revealed documents depict a Canadian euthanasia regime that efficiently ushers the vulnerable to “a beautiful death”
A devastating article in an American magazine, detailing the state of MAID practice in Canada. Painstakingly researched and well worth the time it will take you to read it. Some peeks into meetings amongst MAID providers are beyond revealing — they’re damning!
December 16, 2022 (CTV News) The Death Debate: why some welcome Canada’s move to assisted dying for mental illness and others fear it
This is an update of an October 16th article that was overlooked at the time. The article was updated to reflect the Federal Government’s decision to delay access to MAID for people with mental illness.
For people like Mitchell Tremblay, delay is not good news. “The 40-year-old says he was diagnosed with severe depression as a teen and he also deals with anxiety, alcoholism, personality disorders and continual thoughts of suicide. He can’t work and lives in poverty on a disability payment of just under $1,200 a month. “‘You know what your life is worth to you. And mine is worthless,'” he says.”
On the other hand, “Serena Bains says all this talk about MAiD for psychiatric disorders has only heightened her thoughts of suicide. The 24-year-old who lives in Surrey, B.C. has severe depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder. She was hospitalized once when she told a doctor she was planning her suicide. Her worry is that if she spirals downward and hits a rough patch she might be suicidal enough to ask for MAiD and qualify.”
December 15, 2022 (Globe and Mail) Liberals seeking to delay expansion of medical assistance in dying legislation
BREAKING NEWS! It’s just a delay — probably a “brief” delay — but more time is needed to make the MAID system “safe” so that people with mental illness will not die when their lives could be saved with intervention and support.
December 11, 2022 (UK Talk TV) Euthanasia
An interview of Canadian physician Sonu Gaind by Trish Goddard
December 9, 2022 (Le Monde) Assisted dying: ‘What is seen as an opportunity by some has become an urge to give in to despair for others’
While you have to subscribe to read the whole article in this famous Parisian newspaper, there’s a generous clip at the front end that you can read for free. It’s by a Dutch expert, Theo Boer, “the former regulator of assisted dying in the Netherlands”. He is informing the French of “the evolution and unintended consequences of the euthanasia law in his country”, and warning the French against introducing euthanasia laws in France. Canada makes an appearance in this cautionary tale: “Any legislation allowing assisted dying will be perceived by some as an injustice and will be challenged in court. Take Canada, for instance, where euthanasia became legal in 2016. Less than two years later, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that the concept of terminal illness in Canadian law is discriminatory and unconstitutional. … ” and precipitated a rapid slide down a slippery slope. How does that make you feel, to be held up as a bad example on the international stage? I want to be proud of my country, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.
December 8, 2022 (Hamilton Spectator) On MAID, either we all matter or none of us do
This article is an impassioned plea written by a psychiatrist who specializes in the most serious and stubborn mental health conditions. Don’t give up on my patients!! Don’t pass a law that makes them lose hope!
December 7, 2022 (TVO Today) Should Canada Allow Assisted Death for the Mentally Ill?
Read the transcript: https://www.tvo.org/transcript/2730664
December 4, 2022 (National Post) Conservative MPs call on federal government to ‘delay this reckless expansion’ of MAID
“Literal life-or-death legislation deserves thorough review and consultation to ensure the most vulnerable people are protected,” said the Conservative MPs. But a statement from the office of federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says Canada is committed to implementing MAID for those with a mental disorder by keeping their safety and security at the forefront.
LWD is definitely opposed to Minister Duclos’s position, but we also challenge the Conservative position. Why argue for delay, when what is needed is repeal. The nature of mental illness is not going to change with delay. The massive investment in mental health transfers promised by the government may materialize — don’t hold your breath, and don’t take the Conservative vote in favour of increased expenditure for granted! — but even if it happened tomorrow, actual change to the system will take much longer and there’s no guarantee it would go in the right direction. The C-7 expansion should be repealed in its entirety.
December 3, 2022 (CBC.ca) Disabled people caring for each other can be a radical act
A young disabled queer black Montreal activist speaks out against expanded MAID on the UN International Day for Disabled People.
“When the best option given by the government is assisted death, caring for each other becomes radical. It is radical simply by virtue of being performed by a group believed incapable of doing so. It is radical because it too often goes unnoticed.”
December 2, 2022 (Globe and Mail) Simons faces criticism for campaign highlighting medical assistance in dying
This romanticized commercial was not featured on this page when we first heard about it, but finally the individual featured in the ad, a person who is no longer alive, whose life was terminated by Track 2 MAID, has been named — she was Jennyfer Hatch, first known as “Kat” when her story hit the news — and Simons has pulled the commercial off the market.
Our feelings are echoed by Esther Ignani in a quote from the Globe article: “To present anything related to medical assistance in dying as clean and beautiful, and tying it to consumer culture as if it is a free choice … strikes me as deeply problematic,” said Esther Ignagni, a professor in the School of Disability Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University. “What it covers over is all that we are not talking about with MAID. We are in a health care crisis. We know there are many people who cannot access even primary care, let alone complex care, good pain management, palliative care. For those people, medical assistance in dying may not be an option; it may be the only way out. Those are the difficult conversations we need to be having.”
December 2, 2022 (Global News) Trudeau says assisted dying offers to veterans ‘unacceptable’ as cases mount
Our Prime Minister stated, “We are following up with investigations and we are changing protocols to ensure what should seem obvious to all of us: that it is not the place of Veterans Affairs Canada, who are there to support those people who stepped up to serve their country, to offer them medical assistance in dying.” Is he … are they … really so naive as to think that anything to do with MAID in this fun-house mirror country we’re living in, is really so sparkling clear? Is it really obvious that anyone who’s not actually dying should (or shouldn’t) be euthanized with the blessing of the State? Why is it so clear that a veteran’s affairs caseworker must not raise MAID, but doctors MUST. Are caseworkers more influential than doctors when it comes to guiding people towards a life-ending decision? Oh yes, and why is service to your country in the military more worthy, honourable (and insulating against death) than serving in the myriad everyday ways that ordinary people, including those with disabilities, serve every day? Just what is the Prime Minister thinking? Does anyone know?
November 29, 2022 (Toronto Star) Justice Minister David Lametti under fire for ‘unbelievable’ comparisons between euthanasia and suicide
In which he said the quiet part out loud.
November 25, 2022 (TORONTO STAR Editorial Board) “We need to put the brakes on expanding access to MAiD: While the matter is reviewed, we need to improve social supports.”
Before MAiD was expanded in 2021, Minister of Justice Lametti declared that Canadians are “comfortable” with the concept now, so expansion shouldn’t cause any great alarm. What he didn’t understand is that Canadians were comfortable that there were limits and guardrails, so they didn’t have to worry about things getting out of hand. Not comfortable any more though, as expansion steams ahead!
November 24, 2022 (National Post) Another Canadian Forces member alleges Veterans Affairs offered assisted death as ‘support’
It may be worth pointing out that this is not a doctor or nurse suggesting MAID to a veteran. It is an intake worker. Just a regular citizen who thinks it’s a great thing to be able to offer assisted suicide to a person struggling with PTSD. Thankfully, this particular veteran was “in a good place” when the suggestion was made, and so is alive to tell the tale. He feels badly for not telling his story sooner, but he should know that we don’t judge him for that. His story makes the need for a strongly enforced strict policy to be put in place immediately, not only at Veterans Affairs, but throughout government and social services in general. It is NOT OK to suggest suicide to anyone, period!
November 23, 2022 (Coast Reporter) Renu Bakshi: ‘Calm before the storm’ – upcoming death laws test Canada’s woke values
“You can see a euthanasia assessor in Vancouver sooner than a family doctor.”
“In the Netherlands, where psychiatric euthanasia has been practiced for 20 years, those seeking it are mostly women marginalized by poverty and trauma. Chan fears Canada will follow a similar path: “Administering MAiD would seem premature for people with disabilities and psychiatric conditions when the matter may be resolved by addressing poverty, loneliness, or a lack of housing.”
November 21, 2022 (TORONTO STAR) Canada is now No. 1 in world in terms of MAID. We should think twice before expanding it
The headline says it all, really. The article is accompanied by a photo of the Minister of Justice who has taken upon himself the burden of relieving — no, ending — the suffering of humanity by allowing the medical system to end the lives of those suffering. This “moral” stance effectively ends all arguments.
Q: “Shouldn’t we be fixing the system that makes them suffer?”
A: “Well yes, of course, but meanwhile, they are suffering and we must not allow that!”
If you think there’s something wrong with this reasoning, please join LWD and help us make the government “press the pause button”, as the author of this article suggests.
November 11, 2022 (Globe and Mail) Canada will soon allow assisted dying for mental illness. Has there been enough time to get it right?
A thorough and thoughtful review of the many urgent and unresolved issues around introducing MAID as a “treatment option” for people with mental illness. We know we don’t know enough, and yet full steam ahead seems to be the only way we’re willing to go. This article suggests that we should slow down, re-think, delay that course of action until such time as we really know what safeguards would actually provide adequate protection for people — to save at least some precarious lives.
November 10, 2022 (Toronto Star). Michael’s Choice
This heartbreaking story raises so many perplexing and troublesome questions! Why the hell didn’t someone in his circle of well-heeled Forest Hill friends find him a ground-floor apartment?? A wheelchair? And how has provision of death become part of our “social safety net”?? Yes, that mythical, hole-filled net that failed him so badly at so many points in his life. Yes, it was his choice. And yet everyone involved could feel that there was something not-quite-right about it. Just something not-quite-right …
November 2, 2022 (Vancouver Sun) Canadian doctors encouraged to bring up medically assisted death before their patients do
This article raises the important issue of the use of the word “access”. It used to be all about making life better, easier, fairer, more equitable for people with disabilities. Now it’s all about making death an easier and more available “option” for avoiding “suffering” of all kinds, whether or not a person is actually dying. At LWD, we believe this is a grave misappropriation of a perfectly good word.
October 25, 2022 (National Post) John Ivison: Medically assisted death is slipping down a dreadful slope
Ivison notes, “Opening MAID up to the mentally ill may come with unpleasant and unintended consequences.” He says, “If only the government had been as effective in combatting mental illness as it has been in liberalizing access to physician-assisted death. The 2021 election platform promised to invest $4.5 billion in a national mental-health transfer that has yet to materialize.”
October 24, 2022. (National Post). Veterans Affairs caseworker allegedly admits to helping veterans end their lives, committee hears. Testimony alleges caseworker suggested medically-assisted death was a better option than ‘blowing your brains out against the wall’
“Explosive testimony Monday before the Commons standing committee on veterans affairs by Mark Meincke, a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces suggests a combat veteran was offered MAiD twice — despite repeatedly dismissing medically assisted suicide — and was told that Veterans Affairs had carried out the service for others.”
The article contains a link to an 18-minute clip from the Committee hearing.
[Meincke has a podcast that reaches out to traumatically injured veterans, titled Operation Tango Romeo (stands for Trauma Recovery). Here’s a link to an episode broadcast two days after the Committee hearing: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-252-re-my-ottawa-testimony-about-medically-assisted/id1478155070?i=1000584278309]
October 23, 2022 (Vancouver Sun) Brian Bird: Canada seems on a road that ends with permitting euthanasia for any reason
“Many observers predicted that opening the door to euthanasia for individuals at the end of life would inevitably soften the ground for the expansion that has occurred, but few observers thought it would create a sinkhole so quickly.”
October 22, 2022 (CBC) Federal minister says she’s ‘shocked’ by suggestion of assisted deaths for some babies
Update your knowledge by reading the National Post article below on October 13th. Then think about it.
October 20, 2022. MINISTRY OF HEALTH RESPONSE TO THE MAID AND MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER INTERIM REPORT, JUNE 2022
Not surprisingly, the Ministry of Health accepts and endorses the Panel’s recommendations, including the sufficiency of safeguards and precautions already contained in the law. There is, in their view, nothing special or different about the suffering associated with mental illness that makes it dangerous or ill-advised to offer MAID as a solution. A $5B investment across the country in unspecified improvements to the current mental health system will solve any outstanding problems, they assume. They hope.
They let slip a little tidbit about a qualitative research project involving people with disabilities, short on specifics and timelines. LWD will seek more information about this research — who will be invited to participate, when and how. Stay tuned!
October, 2022 (Global News) How poverty, not pain, is driving some disabled Canadians towards medically assisted death
Two individuals are featured in this 12-minute video.
October 20, 2022 (Global News) Veterans Affairs assisted dying discussion was isolated, but probe ongoing: ministers
“… training is ongoing with all frontline staff to ensure no service agent ever again brings up assisted dying with veterans. He said to date, three-quarters of all service agents have received the training, which will be mandatory for all new hires.” “… because of privacy concerns, most calls between agents and veterans seeking care are not recorded…” so monitoring will be an unmitigated nightmare, totally dependent on upset client reports. Global News declares that “Under Canadian law, medically-assisted death can only be discussed between a primary care provider like a physician or psychiatrist and their patient. Violators of the law can face up to 14 years in prison.” Good. But good luck enforcing any such rule. Maybe they can at a place like Veterans Affairs, but what about the local food bank? What about the friendly cleaner at the hospital who strikes up a conversation with a patient and shares his views? This is a pervasive cultural issue.
October 14, 2022 (Globe and Mail) Why I resigned from the federal expert panel on medical assistance in dying
Ellen Cohen, the national co-ordinator of the National Network for Mental Health, writes compellingly about her treatment and experience on the expert panel reviewing safeguards for MAID and mental health. The conditions of her resignation from the committee after 5 months of service prevented her from speaking out until now. “It was as though the panel’s recommendations had already been set before the work had even started,” she claims.
October 14, 2022 (Toronto Star) Canada is going too far with medical assistance in dying. The danger of abuse is becoming ever more apparent
Andrew Phillips asks, “How does the unthinkable become not only thinkable, but seemingly inevitable? How do we normalize things we recently considered not just abnormal, but horrifying?” People are waking up. Take action, and let your MP know that you’re horrified too!
October 13, 2022 (National Post) Canadian parents have asked for medically assisted death for babies, doctors say
Dr. David Lysecki, a pediatric palliative care specialist said, “With surgery and life-support, we can sometimes keep their body alive for years. But that child would never be able to process the outside world in a cognizant way.”
Do we need to remind Canadians that doctors have made such dire pronouncements since Canada was a country? Massive warehousing institutions were built to house children considered hopeless lost causes, until parents, caregivers and others rose up against medicalized confinement and demanded real and meaningful community inclusion for their sons and daughters. Those cruel and discriminatory institutions have been closed across Canada (with regrettable exceptions). But now instead of inclusion, in the time of MAID, we’re talking infanticide? Legalized infanticide? Get a grip, Canada!!
Remember, before the Nazis killed 6 million Jews, they practiced on disabled people, including children, at their parents’ request! Visit the history page of the website to learn more.
October 13, 2022 (CityNews) Ontario man applying for medically-assisted death as alternative to being homeless
“He describes his quality of life as “awful, non-existent and terrible … I do nothing other than manage pain.” But Farsoud said his quality of life is not the reason he is applying for MAiD. He applied because he is currently in danger of losing his housing and fears being homeless over dying. “It’s not my first choice.” …
Farsoud is not the first person with disabilities to consider MAID due to the lack of resources available to them. CityNews previously spoke to Richard Ewald, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stage four liver disease, and suffers from chronic pain and depression.”
The reporters spoke with Dr. Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist from the University of Toronto, who said “this is not what MAID was designed for. … “We were unbelievably naive as a nation to think that vulnerability, disability, poverty that we could parcel that off and it wasn’t going to be a problem. It’s a huge problem.”
October 11, 2022 (Common Sense News) Scheduled to Die: The Rise of Canada’s Assisted Suicide Program
This article explores the issues in depth, with lots of disturbing case examples. A quote from Dr. Sonu Gaind sums up the situation: “When we have people who are genuinely suffering, and we don’t provide them options for dignified living, but we provide them with what we label as a painless death, it provides these people with the enticement of a means to escape their suffering, when we could have helped them escape otherwise—by overcoming their problems and moving on and living.” Enticement is exactly what the Supreme Court in the Carter decision meant to protect against.
October 4, 2022 (CBC News) Winnipeg woman who chose to die with medical assistance said struggle for home care help led to decision
“Kovac did not tell the panel of professionals who assessed her application for a medically assisted death that she was driven to seek MAID due to a lack of adequate home care support, fearing that if she shared her full rationale they would deny her.” Her friend and part-time caregiver said, “[she] felt humiliated by the process of asking for, and failing to obtain, adequate home care services.”
September 29, updated October 3, 2022 (CTV NEWS Montreal). ‘I can’t live that way’: Montreal man seeking medically assisted death due to home care conditions
It’s a difficult labour situation right now. Home care workers are in great demand, so they can take or leave employment at will. And services that are underfunded can’t raise pay to stay competitive. So the quality of service goes down. People experience the lack of care as a direct assault on their dignity. And the government saves money. And death is offered as an alternative to care. Is there some other way of reading this?
September 28, 2022 (Western Standard) SLOBODIAN: A mother’s pressure wins stay on son’s assisted suicide.
“The medically assisted suicide of a non-terminally ill 23-year-old man didn’t take place as scheduled Wednesday. But, that’s only because his mother’s fight to save her son’s life — coupled with the outraged publicity it generated — compelled the doctor to change his mind.”
September 26, 2022 (Ottawa Citizen). ‘I am tired of screaming for help’: A local family’s struggle to care for a loved one with ALS at home
This story, about the battle to get the kind of care you need, when and where you need it, is one of thousands. People want to care for their loved ones if they can, but they need support to do so. But a casual reference, way down in the story, jumps out at the reader who is attuned to these things: “… someone in the home-care system suggested the reason there were not more places capable of caring for people like Adam with complex care needs was th at medically assisted death is now legal and not many people get to that point.” She says, “It basically says my husband should have died by now because our health-care system can’t take care of him. That is what it makes me feel like, and I don’t think it is fair. He deserves the best care possible, like anybody else.” We at LIVING WITH DIGNITY CANADA agree completely.
September 20, 2022 (New York Times). Is Choosing Death Too Easy in Canada?
The link will only work if you are a Times subscriber, but I am working on a blog post that addresses the issues it raises. Please visit the blog page!
September 1, 2022 (The Globe and Mail Editorial Board). Medical assistance in dying is a right that needs more limits
“As psychiatrist John Maher put it to the Parliamentary committee, “the rallying cry is autonomy at all costs. But the inescapable cost is people dying who would get better. What number of mistaken guesses is acceptable to you?” For a Quebec government committee studying the issue, the answer is zero. Last December it recommended that provincial law continue to prohibit MAID solely for psychiatric suffering. It’s not too late for Ottawa to do the same.”
August 26, 2022 (The Tyee) How COVID affected Canadians’ Mental Health. Many people already struggling were pushed to the edge, study finds.
“While their paper could not assess the causes of many of these links, Guerrero and Barnes say their study suggests public health efforts towards preventing and responding to suicide ideation need to prioritize people with multiple diagnoses and challenges.” The “challenges” mentioned include “marginalized, racialized and LGBTQ2SIA+ people, who already face higher levels of mental health issues due to racism and discrimination”. On the margins of the margins live people with visible disabilities, but they don’t mention that.
This study was published by Statistics Canada.
August 24, 2022 (CBC) ‘Horrifying’ that Veterans Affairs worker raised assisted suicide with troubled veteran, group says. More on that August 17 story (below).
Scott Maxwell, executive director of Wounded Warriors Canada, said, “We know at times it could exacerbate someone’s injury further. I mean, this is really complex, real stuff that needs to be treated as such — and as you can see, as we’re talking about today, we still have a long way to go.” Veteran’s Affairs is slowly learning about combat-related PTSD, and gradually making progress with helping veterans to heal.
But did you know that PTSD associated with childhood trauma (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is one of the main factors associated with mental health problems in young and older adults in all populations, but particularly in indigenous communities due to historic injustice? And did you know that as of March 2023, people with a range of mental illnesses are cleared for euthanasia by a medical/psychiatric system that barely understands the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences? Does it worry me? Absolutely! (I feel a blog post coming on. Stay tuned!!)
August 17, 2022 (National Post) Another case of a sick Canadian offered death instead of treatment — this time, a veteran
“Unprompted, a Veterans Affairs Canada service agent then mentioned that the veteran could opt for a medically assisted death. Family members of the veteran contacted by Global News said that he felt betrayed and disgusted by the offer, and that the encounter derailed what had previously been a gradual and positive shift towards recovery.” And another quote: “… amid an unprecedented Canadian health-care shortage leading to increasing instances of emergency rooms shuttered by understaffing, the federal government’s own internal calculations have identified euthanasia as a potential cost saving.”
August 13, 2022 (CTV). More than 10,000 Canadians received a medically-assisted death in 2021: report
“It is rising remarkably fast,” University of Toronto law professor Trudo Lemmens, who was a member of the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying, wrote in an email to CTV News. He noted that some regions in the country have quickly matched or surpassed rates in Belgium and the Netherlands, where the practice has been in place for over two decades.
August 12, 2022 (Newstalk 1010) Tim Stainton, director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia, explains to Moore In The Morning how the coming expansion of Canada’s medically assisted death program could be detrimental to the disabled. (8 min 36 sec listen).
August 12, 2022 (Toronto Star). The Ontario government has given Maggie an ultimatum: the disabled teen can lose her funding or her independence
This is not a story about MAID. But it IS a story about the social forces that control — or try to control — the lives of people with disabilities. Some people promote MAID as a “choice” — a readily-available solution to suffering caused not by disease or disability, but by intractable discrimination and bureaucratic inflexibility. In this story, Maggie’s family is privileged to be able to absorb the financial blow of the loss of funding, but many, possibly most families cannot. What choices remain for them?
August 11, 2022 (AP) ‘Disturbing’: Experts troubled by Canada’s euthanasia laws
“Canada prides itself on being liberal and accepting, said David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Britain, “but what’s happening with euthanasia suggests there may be a darker side.””
August 1, 2022 (CBC). Ontario residents with disabilities face homelessness or worse, say advocates as some rent subsidies expiring
“To make matters even worse, there’s even people with disabilities signing up for [medical assistance in dying], because the waiting lists are so long for rental subsidies, and for housing and for just basic necessities, period, that people with disabilities are signing up for this just to get out because they cannot live like they’re living anymore.” Bondy said some people with disabilities may also stay with abusive caretakers or be in homes that are unsafe if they cannot support themselves. “We as a disabled community have fought very hard for independence, and it’s like we have to fight for every scrap of independence we can get.”
July 29, 2022 (Government of Canada) Third annual report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada 2021
It’s a long, statistics-heavy report. Specific information on Track 2 (i.e. non-RFND) cases are reported at Section 4.5 of the report. The total number of MAID deaths was 9,950. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/medical-assistance-dying/annual-report-2021.html
July 26, 2022 (The Tyee) Medically Assisted Death ‘needs to be a Good Choice, Not a Choice of Last Resort’
“Gwen says recent eligibility expansions make it easier for those with chronic conditions to die instead of live.”
July 20, 2022 (National Post) Fewer than half of Canadians support assisted death for mental disorders: poll
The pollster interprets for readers: “If I’m a policy maker looking at this data, I would interpret it as, ‘OK, it’s possible that we could create some rules that would enable a seriously mentally ill individual to access MAID. But we must put in some framework, we have to put in some criteria, in order for the public to feel more comfortable with this kind of policy.’” Another option would be to apply the brakes and bring this dangerous train to a stop.
July 12th 2022. Death shouldn’t always be the sentence for suffering Canadians
Dr. Sonu Gaind writes: As our Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) laws expand, even supporters of MAiD have become alarmed at how widely the net is being cast. Introduced in 2016 only for when death was foreseeable, expanded in 2021 to the non-dying disabled and slated to expand to those with mental illness by 2023, expansionists are pushing for even further expansion of assisted suicide to children. … “We have not witnessed a slippery slope in Canada, we have fallen off a cliff.” Click the headline to read the whole article.
July 11/2022. CTV News: Ontario woman enduring effects of long COVID begins process for MAID
“After 26 months of lost income since the onset of symptoms, no foreseeable ability to work and an absence of support, Thompson said she expects to run out of money in about 5 months.” There’s so much to say about this situation! This is not a woman who comes from poverty — 26 months of no income and she is still managing. She faces a long period of recovery or perhaps permanent disability. She needs support — a LOT of support, but is feeling hopeless about getting her needs met. Would connection to a strong and vibrant disability-rights community get her through? Death is NOT the right answer in this situation!!
June 15/2022. How COVID Broke Canadian Society, in the Tyee, by Crawford Kilian. The excellent article reviews a book by Jon Parsons, which details the nihilism, passive and active, that has infected the Canadian social body along with the COVID-19 virus. “Ethical subjects” (that’s us) are left to deal with the shreds of society that we have left. “The more difficult to deal with for many,” says Parsons, “is the harsh realization that those around them — society as a whole — did not value their existence…. The realization that anyone could simply be cast on the trash pile cannot help but damage social relations and cohesion in a society like ours, that claims to hold compassion and humanitarianism as core values.” And yet the authors both fail to identify MAID and C-7 expansion as the festering symptoms that they are.
June 3/2022. The Canada Disability Benefit is back on the agenda, but this older article is still highly relevant:
There are many questions to be answered before the Canada Disability Benefit becomes a reality.
The government … said [the Canada Disability Benefit] … would be stacked on top of the existing benefits people with disabilities currently receive. But… Three important questions are:
- What will be the amount of the monthly benefit?
- Who will be eligible?
- How can we prevent clawback of existing benefits that disabled people currently receive?
Expect some intense activist activity around these three questions in the near future.
Jun 2, 2022 (The Castanet) Kelowna man exasperated as elderly friend struggles to receive healthcare at home
… there was a time when Obenauer’s care providers were talking about signing him up for palliative care and B.C.’s medical assistance in dying program. “They asked me if I thought Randy would consider the MAiD program and I said, well, no, he doesn’t want to die any sooner than he’s to die. I was kind of shocked by that,” said Campbell.
June 2, 2022 (Canadian Dimension) Filibustering death-dealing ableism
An excellent interview with Catherine Frazee and Gabrielle Peters on the Disability Filibuster and Bill C-7.
“… Disability Filibuster has returned for 2022 to oppose further expansion and continue building a “virtual hub for the expression, preservation and promotion of activist disability culture.””
May 31, 2022 (McLean’s Magazine) Most Canadians Support Medical Assistance in Dying. So why is it considered controversial?
Helen Long, CEO of Dying with Dignity, holds forth on MAID, and the non-existence of controversial cases.
May 18, 2022 Prevalence of suicidal ideation among adults in Canada: Results of the second Survey on COVID-19 and mental health
The government seems not to be taking into account the fact that they introduced MAID for non-dying people at the very time that their mental health was already under considerable strain due to the pandemic. A giant but unacknowledged “inducement” towards suicidal ideation, if not actual suicide.
May 13, 2022. The Experts report on including Mental Illness.
This is a long “EXPERT” report mandated by the earlier C-7 legislation passed in March, 2021. The academics present all of the issues and arguments for and against including mental illness as a “qualifying” ground for MAID. However, are those arguments weighed properly? An excellent article by SEPHORA TANG AND DYLAN MCGUINTY in the Hill Times on MAY 23, 2022 argues that the bias of the Committee’s original assignment to the Expert Panel, and the bias of the Expert Panel itself, are both revealed upon examination. That article lives behind a paywall, which we must respect in order to not violate copyright laws.
May, 2022. Press conference with MPs Cooper and Barrett https://www.facebook.com/michaelcooper4stalbertedmonton/videos/2322128927927477. The MP’s present 4 witnesses whose stories are being ignored by the Parliamentary Committee on the expansion of MAID. Notice the complete lack of media interest in these compelling stories as well. This Facebook article will only be visible to Facebook subscribers.
May 10/2022 – The Canadian Human Rights Commission statement on MAID. “Social and economic rights – the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to adequate housing, the right to healthcare and the right to accessible services – are fundamental human rights. They are essential to living a life of dignity. Without access to social and economic rights, our other rights have little meaning. Canada has an obligation to ensure that everyone can live with full enjoyment of these rights. Social and economic rights – fundamental human rights – should be enshrined in law.”
May 10/2022 (National Observer) Canadians Are Being Eaten by Poverty
“Politicians can start by showing me they care, but right now, they aren’t doing that. Maybe they need to live in our shoes until they know what it’s like to go hungry.”
May 9/2022. Assisted dying must not be confused for palliative care “While access to MAID is guaranteed in Canada, access to palliative care and other supports, including home and disability services, are not – and worse, MAID is being provided at the expense of already limited palliative care resources.”
May 5/2022. Disabled Senator Chantal Petitclerc is troubled by the idea that MAID might be substituted for adequate care. This one is behind the Hill Times firewall so I will attempt to summarize it in an upcoming blog post.
May 4/2022 -(National Post) Euthanasia is a Runaway Train … Time to hit the brakes.
“It’s one thing to legalize euthanasia. It’s another thing to coerce people to get on board with it or get out of health care. This totalitarian approach which assumes that every citizen supports euthanasia is unbecoming of a free and democratic society that features a range of views on this topic. And if there is any sector of society where freedom of conscience should be robust, health care is it. The interests at stake — life, death, human dignity — demand nothing less.”
May 2, 2022 Sabrina Maddeaux: Euthanizing the mentally ill without providing proper supports is reprehensible
“For a nation that takes so much pride in our so-called universal health-care system, it’s ironic that we’ll soon be closer to offering universal death care than passable medicare.”
April 30, 2022 (CTV News) Woman with disabilities nears medically assisted death after futile bid for affordable housing
“She desperately wants to move to an apartment that’s wheelchair accessible and has cleaner air. But her only income is from Ontario’s Disability Support Program (ODSP). She receives a total of $1,169 a month plus $50 for a special diet. “I’ve applied for MAiD essentially…because of abject poverty,” she said.”
April 29/2022. Cracks in Canada’s assisted-dying law begin to show.
“”The government sees me as expendable trash, a complainer, useless,” said Sophia in a heartbreaking recording made eight days prior to her MAiD-facilitated death. But no Canadian, lest of all our most vulnerable countrymen, should be left to fend for themselves in the face of disability and illness. The use of the new more permissive MAiD regime to substitute for government supports that would allow people to live with dignity is enraging to disability-rights activists. It should be to everyone.”
April 13/2022 – Woman with chemical sensitivities chose medically-assisted death after failed bid to get better housing.
One of the cases that finally started to pique the interest of Canadian media and then the public.
April 13/2022 – What happened to the Canada Disability Benefit?
[The Canada Disability Benefit] was hyped by the Liberal government as a way to end disability poverty in Canada, providing supplemental income to ease the growing financial strain on disabled Canadians.
February 22nd 2022. Public services, not private donations, are the solution to disabled poverty.
People living with disabilities were neglected long before the pandemic and continue to face barriers to full social and economic participation. … It is time for Canada to shift from social assistance to social infrastructure.
January, 2022. (CBC) Years after medical assistance in dying became legal, the debate rages on. Some want to see MAID expanded, while others are concerned about existing laws.
August 12, 2021 (ArtsEverywhere) MAID in Canada: A radical response to changes in medically assisted dying. Written by Aislinn Thomas, Poetry by Jane Shi
Although Canada as a state has recently been forced to reckon with a curve in public consciousness around its violent settler-colonial legacy, an understanding of the deeply entrenched prejudice towards people living with disabilities within Canadian legislation has received scant media attention. This neglect itself is an expression and extension of colonial and capitalist ideology which privileges typically-abled bodies that are seen as productive for the system. Artist and advocate Aislinn Thomas argues that while the Canadian government denies disabled people the things they need to thrive and flourish, it meanwhile offers a fast-track to medically assisted dying. In this piece, Thomas investigates the development of Bill C-7, its sinister implications, and the disabled community’s response to the bill in Canada. American justice educator and disability activist Mia Mingus says that “access done in the service of love, justice, connection and community” can be liberatory and transformative. Thomas argues that the type of access Bill C-7 provides—access borne of a system that values efficiency, productivity, and convenience—doesn’t value disabled lives in the first place. Instead, they call for a type of access and care, punctuated by love, that embraces disabled lives as a welcome disruption.
July 5, 2021 (TORONTO STAR) ‘I Shouldn’t Have to Beg for My Life’
“The silence and stigma around disability and chronic illness is exactly what Madeline and two Vancouver journalists want to challenge in a new collaborative podcast taking listeners through the centuries of ableism, misogyny and medical reluctance that leave Madeline and others with post-viral syndromes without recognition or relief.
‘With post-viral conditions, there is a really critical window where we can course correct and save people from worsening health if it’s caught early,’ said Madeline. ‘I could have been even more stable instead of at my current level of deterioration if my treatments were funded 10 years ago.’”
Feb. 11, 2021 (Toronto Star) If medically assisted death becomes more accessible for Canadians, we have a moral obligation to make living well — through housing, mental health supports — accessible too.
“Without investments to end the structures that create these situations [i.e. homelessness, poverty, marginalization), MAID may not be a fair choice for everyone.”
Dr. Naheed Dosani is a palliative care physician and health justice advocate who serves as a lecturer at the University of Toronto and an assistant clinical professor at McMaster University. Follow him on Twitter@NaheedD.
February 3, 2021 (CP, CTV News) Doctors offer duelling views of what it’s like to receive an assisted death.
Senators have been presented with two starkly different descriptions of what it’s like to receive medical assistance in dying in Canada: a beautiful, peaceful death or a painful end akin to drowning. The duelling descriptions came from two doctors during testimony Tuesday night at the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee, which is scrutinizing Bill C-7. The bill would expand Canada’s five-year-old regime for medical assistance in dying (MAID) to include people who are suffering intolerably but not near the end of their natural lives.
December 14, 2020 (Policy Options) Bill C-7, Assisted dying and “lives not worth living” — Legalizing MAiD for people not foreseeably dying risks stigmatizing vulnerable citizens. It’s a narrow medical solution to larger social problems. – By Jonas Sébastien Beaudry
“The problem is not so much that people cannot reasonably judge, at an individual level, that their lives are not worth living. The problem is a political and social one: Bill C-7 opens a normative space in which various social actors, including medical experts and the state itself, can discuss the topic of “lives not worth living.” This medico-legal space facilitates the cultural emergence of categories of human beings whose lives can be legally and morally disposed of. Since our society and our courts are barely aware of how ageist and ableist our culture is, this is a dangerous door to open.” This is an excellent article which is well worth the few minutes it takes to read it.
November 24, 2020 (The Toronto Star). Assisted-death bill sends wrong message to Indigenous people, advocates say.
“Indigenous elders work hard to tell young people that suicide should not be an option, and the medical assistance in dying (MAID) bill says the opposite,” said Tyler White, chief executive officer of Siksika Health Services, which provides health services to Indigenous communities in Alberta. “Extraordinary efforts have been made in suicide prevention in our communities,” he said. “The expansion of MAID sends a contradictory message to our peoples that some individuals should receive suicide prevention, while others suicide assistance.”
November 19, 2020 (CTV News). Facing another retirement home lockdown, 90-year-old chooses medically assisted death
She didn’t have COVID. She wasn’t dying. And yet, she died by MAiD to avoid another long winter of lock-downs in her retirement home. What a difficult and complicated time!
November 12, 2020 (Macleans Magazine) Dying for the right to live
Gabrielle Peters spelled out the danger of MAID in the context of COVID-19 and poverty, before others started paying attention to this pressing problem.
July27, 2020 (City News) Vancouver woman with disabilities living in pain, forced into debt seeks medically assisted dying
Medeline’s case hit the news. “After 25 years of living with pain, fatigue and a complex disability, a Vancouver woman says she’s run her debt as far as it will go. She says she’s facing a painful deterioration or even an untimely death, so she’s seeking medically assisted dying. Madeline — a pseudonym for the protection of her privacy — says she doesn’t want to die but her monthly income, even with temporary COVID-19-era increases, is not enough to keep her in a pain threshold that’s bearable.”
January 18, 2020 (De Standaard – Original publication in Dutch). Being diagnosed with Autism saved my life, Janis Schaerlaeken, Primary Care Physician
This article, translated by Trudo Lemmens and featured on his excellent blog page on January 19, 2020, was written by a physician who had been diagnosed as an adult with autism. For her, the diagnosis explained a lot and enabled her to find and learn new coping skills. But she wrote the article when a case hit the press regarding 3 Flemish doctors who had euthanized an adult woman recently diagnosed with autism, before she had a chance to adjust to her new diagnosis and acquire those essential skills. The author raises important questions, as does Professor Lemmens in his introductory notes.
June 18, 2018. (Social Science Resource Network), Author, Jonas-Sebastien Beaudry The Way Forward for Medical Aid in Dying: Protecting Deliberative Autonomy is Not Enough
Mainstream public and legal debates, decisions, and norms about medical aid in dying (MAiD) have focused primarily on the deliberative facets of autonomy and have paid far less attention to its social components. As a result, safeguards may fail to properly protect the autonomy of vulnerable persons.
After introducing the factual and theoretical background of this problem (Section I), I will explain the distinction between deliberative and social dimensions of autonomy, and why a right to autonomy might entail not only protecting an agent’s decisional capacities, but also certain conditions enabling the realization of such capacities (Section II). In Section III, I will explain that legal and bioethical discourses about autonomy have traditionally focused on its deliberative dimensions. This explains, in part, why one should not be surprised that the judicial interpretation of the right to liberty in the Carter decision focused on deliberative capacities (Section IV) and that the legal and regulatory MAiD frameworks set up by our federal and provincial governments similarly focus on deliberative autonomy (Section V). Section VI outlines an alternative interpretation of the right to autonomy that recognizes the necessity of social resources and proposes a principled way of constraining that right. Section VII maps the kinds of social determinants of autonomy in the context of MAiD that our government should monitor and analyze in order to enact proper safeguards to protect socially vulnerable people in the future.
Beaudry, Jonas-Sébastien, The Way Forward for Medical Aid in Dying: Protecting Deliberative Autonomy is Not Enough (June 30, 2018). © Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry. First published in the Supreme Court Law Review, Second Series, Vol. 85., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3189417
May 30, 2017 (The Hastings Centre) Has Physician-Assisted Death Become the “Good Death?”, by Franklin G. Miller (Bioethics Forum Essay)
““Death with dignity” for the past 40 years has meant, for many people, avoiding unwanted medical technology and dying in a hospital. A “natural” death at home or in a hospice facility has been the goal. During the last 20 years, physician-assisted suicide has been legalized for terminally ill patients in several states of the United States, and recently “medical assistance in dying,” which also includes active euthanasia, has become legal in Canada. How should we think about what constitutes a good death now?”
The author concludes with this statement: Letting death happen, with the aid of palliative care, is no less good than making it happen. We should beware of prescribing a particular form of “death with dignity” as a model for the end of life and not acknowledging other perspectives.
2015 (The year of Carter)
June 30, 2015 (The Atlantic) Why Disability-Rights Advocates Are Fighting Doctor-Assisted Suicide in California. Oops! This article requires a subscription to read the whole thing. However, if you read the top bit, you will find the name Marilyn Golden, who wrote copiously on the topic for DREDF (Disability Rights Education and Defence Fund).
Readers: If you have a personal archive of clips, especially of Latimer and Rodrigues, or any other relevant material, please consider scanning and submitting it here. Just send to firstname.lastname@example.org
October 14, 2014 – (Ottawa Citizen) Catherine Frazee: There can be dignity in all states of life. I don’t believe that anyone should take a position on medically assisted dying without first understanding what dignity is, and what it is not.
“At the heart of this debate, we must choose between competing visions of our social fabric. Shall we uncritically submit to the voracious demands of individual liberty no matter what the social cost? Or shall we agree that there are limits to individual freedom, limits that serve all of us when we are vulnerable and in decline?”